Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Exmoor Half-Term Hols

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

A (very) belated blog post to record our half-term trip to Exmoor. The destination was selected as someone not too far away but where we haven’t spent much time before. As we drove there on Friday evening, what we’d failed to appreciate was how slow the roads would be to get there. The roads got narrower and narrower until, after passing Porlock Weir, we eventually reached a toll gate. I had started reversing back up the single-track road before Christine checked the details which indicated that we should pass through the arch, then through a tunnel under the coast path, which would take us to our randomly selected cottage (the left half of the building in the picture).

Reading through bumph left in the cottage it transpired that the cottage was part of the Ashley Combe estate, once owned by Lord William King, and where he honeymooned with his bride Ada Byron (to become Ada Lovelace) mathematician and colleague of Charles Babbage. The tunnels were part of an elaborate scheme to keep the tradesmen out of sight!

We woke to beautiful views north across the Bristol Channel to South Wales and east across the bay to Hurlstone Point. Our first day was fairly relaxed. We explored the private path down to the pebble beach and then drove back to Minehead to stock up on food. Christine and I took it in turns to explore, running from the cottage.

On Sunday, we drove to Bossington at the other end of the bay. From there, we walked up the headland to Selworth Beacon, returning via the National Trust tearooms at Selworth and an obligatory cream tea.

For the next two days, I was making the most of my remote working and saving a bit of vacation for later in the year. On Monday, the others went to Dunster Castle where they met up with their cousins and on Tuesday they explored on foot from the cottage.

Come Wednesday, I was back in holiday mode and we headed along the coast to Lynmouth. I then drove whilst the others took the cliff railway up to Lynton. From there we spent a few hours exploring the Valley of the Rocks. We returned to the cottage over Exmoor which looked particularly bleak at this time of year.

For our last full day we went south to Tarr Steps, a 17-span ‘clapper’ bridge. Our walk ended up being a little longer than anticipated as all the other crossing points on the river were under water until we reached Withypool (where the tea shop was not due to open for another week but the village shop ran to ice creams!).

Friday was departure day and we decided to stop off at Stourhead on our way home. The house was closed for its winter cleaning so we joined the masses on a lap of the lake as the sun broke through the morning mist.

It was a fun week but, other than perhaps to walk the Coast Path, I don’t think we’ll be rushing back.

Another Classic Weekend

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

It was another two day’s of racing this weekend. On Saturday BAOC had an urban race around Winchester based at Peter Symonds college. Christine was resting her knee so it was just the children and myself competing. Their courses were confined to the college grounds with Duncan finishing 5th M12- and Emma 3rd W12- (although they were running the same course and Duncan actually beat Emma).

The navigation wasn’t particularly challenging with many long legs meaning there was lots of hard running to be done. With a late start, I knew what time I should be aiming for and things became increasingly frantic as I headed into the last five controls. Needless to say, I managed to waste time on the last two controls, but still managed to take first place. The time of 43 minutes looks more respectable in the context of the 10k I ran and not the 6.4k quoted for the course length!

Sunday brought the November Classic. We all started today although only because I’d entered Christine by mistake! There was light rain over Hampton Ridge whilst we were out (the picture above was taken later in the day). We met with mixed fortunes. Duncan had a good run, finishing second on M10A. Christine walked round a few controls before returning. Emma was out for over an hour without finding any of her controls. My legs didn’t feel too bad until the last part of the course. My downfall was repeatedly hunting for pits in the bracken which saw me finish in 5th place. Thankfully, no events planned for next weekend!

OMM White

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Last weekend it was the OMM in the Black Mountains, South Wales. Christine’s parents had offered to mind the children so Christine and I were running the Medium Score together. There was a biting wind but blue skies as we set off on Saturday morning. There was some early indecision but we soon settled down to a steady mountain marathon pace. As the morning went on, the skies started to look increasingly ominous and, as we cross one bit of particularly bleak hillside, the snow began and persisted for long enough to paint the mountainside white. We reached the campsite with around twenty minutes to spare – not long enough to have fitted anything else in.

It was a long night in the campsite, made more bearable by being able to chat to Christine brother and his wife in the tent next to us. Due to the cold, we both ‘slept’ in all of our clothes, including waterproofs. We were certainly glad to discover that, as third mixed pair, we qualified for the chasing start and had an hour less to spend in the campsite in the morning.

Although we removed a layer, we both kept our waterproofs on for the whole of the second day. Christine’s knee was giving her grief (a likely outcome even before we started the weekend) and, as a consequence, we were setting a pretty stately pace. We reined in our plans as we went round and, although we finished with another 25 minutes to spare, at the speed we were going it still wouldn’t have got us another checkpoint. We were 47th on the second day which brought us down from 13th to 28th over the two days. Still respectable but not what we would have hoped for had we both been fit and healthy. On the plus side, it did mean we could slip away before the prize giving and make it home in reasonable time!

If you watch the promotional video, you’ll catch a brief glimpse of us finishing on the first day around the 1:33 mark. Thanks to Christine’s dad who purchased the image above where we were reunited with the children at the finish. You can also find our routes from Day 1 and 2 on RouteGadget.

British Schools Score Champions

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Today we were down at the British Schools Orienteering Association Score Champs, taking place at Moors Valley Country Park. It was a lovely day to be out in the forest (particularly compared with Friday’s weather). This was the first score event that Emma and Duncan have done on their own and the game plan was simply for them to head around the loop of white-standard controls, picking up a few others on their way. They both executed on this and, despite (or perhaps because) of being back well inside the 45-minute time limit, won their respective courses. (Duncan ran up as the event starts at Year 5.) Prizes were presented by Gillian Cross, author of the Demon Headmaster series, and member of the organising club. Results and more pictures can be seen on the British Schools Orienteering Association website. We won’t be travelling up to the non-score Champs in Blackburn later this year but nearby BADO are due to host the event in 2019…

Birthday Hash

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Lest this blog become entirely about technology: it was Duncan’s 9th birthday last week. His party took place the weekend before and, given it was up at Farley Mount and all outdoors, the weather was very kind to us. Emma and I laid out a hash whilst Christine and Duncan waited for ‘the boys’ to arrive. We returned to find a game of capture the flag (a Cub favourite) well underway.

Having laid the hash was a good excuse to stay behind and mind the lunch whilst everyone else disappeared off into the woods. Thankfully they all returned again about half an hour later although I could still hear them for about half that time! In the meantime, I’d started frying for the bacon sarnies. I was cooking on gas but the plan was to light a fire in the site’s barbecue grill so that they could toast marshmallows for s’mores. Christine had even bought a flint and steel and, with copious quantities of cotton wool, they did eventually get a fire going. This was quite something given the trouble I then had just trying to light the candles on the cake (with a match I hasten to add). Christine had lots of other activities planned but they seemed happy to round things off with another game of capture the flag.

When the day itself came it was fairly uneventful. Emma gets lots of enjoyment from just watching other people open presents and, given she leaves for school before Duncan gets out of bed these days, he was kind enough to wait until they’d both got back from school. Duncan had a week off football so that things weren’t quite as manic as usual but, after a birthday tea (where, as you can see, he only got the leftovers of his cake from the party!) he and Christine then headed out to Cubs as usual.

Hursley 10k

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

It was Christine’s turn to run the Hursley 10k this year so the rest of us went along to spectate (Emma is always keen when there’s prospect of a cake stall!). There was lots of Eastleigh Running Club orange out for us to cheer on. As you’d expect given the location, there were also a few IBMers although, looking at the results, I also failed to spot many I should have seen.

On Christine’s return, I raced off for a quick run (a chance to knock out the September Challenge). It took longer than I anticipated but I made it back just in time to see Duncan cross the line in the KS2 race. He seemed pleased with his run. It’s just a shame that it’s another four years before Emma is allowed to take part in any of the races again.

More photos on Flickr.

Bursledon Bricks and Mill

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

As part of this year’s Heritage Open Days we went along to Bursledon Brickworks (actually on the Swanwick side of the river for the pedants). We started with a ride on the narrow gauge railway although the particular specimen on show today wasn’t anything to write home about. We then went in search of one of the ‘heritage’ buses that was meant to be running to the windmill. There were several buses parked up in the courtyard but none moving and when I was asked whether I was ‘interested in buses’ we retreated to the brickworks itself.

The museum itself is quite well done, at least in parts (it has had significant lottery money spent on it). The site was still operational until the early seventies when it was cleaved in two by the M27. The steam workings are still operational although not making bricks (and the steam was being generated by a very modern looking boiler). Following on from my earlier rant, the children were given a quiz that required them to actually read the signs AND we didn’t have to pay for a pencil (I’m looking at you English Heritage!). The prize was a few old pennies to spend in the arcade which they enjoye. There was also an interesting display on the brickworks’ predecessor in Chandler’s Ford.

We tried to get on the one o’clock bus to Bursledon Windmill but it was already full. This gave the children a chance to make clay bricks by hand though. They brought them home although they’ll take 2-3 weeks to fully dry out. After a spot of lunch we made it on the two o’clock bus (just) but when we arrived at the windmill we were told that the tours were full for the rest of the day. We took a quick look round outside and then got another bus back to the car. We’ll have to decide whether to return another weekend to (pay and) see inside.

All in all, it was a reasonable way to spend a few hours and, given both sites are staffed by volunteers, one shouldn’t grumble too much about the lack of organisation. If you’re at a loose end next weekend then there are lots more attractions open across the UK and, if you’re local, particularly in the Winchester area.

Double Celebration Weekend

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

This weekend we were signed up for a double-header of orienteering. On Saturday it was the British Sprint Champs at Bath University. We were there early as Christine’s parents were running the local parkrun and returning the children to us beforehand. The first-class sports facilities at the University made an excellent assembly area for the event. We had mixed fortunes in the heats. Christine and I made it through to the A finals but both the children were disqualified for wrong controls (it was a tricky area to plan easy courses on). Christine was fourth in her final and Duncan managed a first in his B final. I faired less well making one bad route choice through the multi-level section and losing my head completely on a later leg.

We spent the night in Glastonbury and had a nice dinner out at Tamburino’s in Street. On Sunday it was the Middle Distance Champs at Stock Hill near Wells. Despite a panic whilst we tried to find where Duncan’s SI card had ended up (down the back of his car seat!) we arrived in plenty of time for Christine’s start. Duncan had a good run on M10, finishing 7th. Emma was 8th on W12 although in a smaller field. She made a 10 minute error on one control though on what looked like a tricky orange course. I also managed 8th place despite making several blunders – not surprising given that I wasn’t really reading any of the contour detail on the map!

Christine had the start performance: a place on the podium and a silver medal. And the double celebration? It was also our wedding anniversary!

(Sprint photos courtesy of Gerry Ashton.)